Major NFL Draft Policies Need To Change ASAP

Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

Major NFL Draft Policies Need To Change ASAP

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Major NFL Draft Policies Need To Change ASAP

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This week Jaxon Smith-Njigba announced that he will not be competing in the college football playoffs due to an injury and wanting to prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft. Smith-Njigba is doing what he feels is best for himself, but he shouldn’t have been put in this position in the first place. Last season he had 95 receptions, 1,606 receiving yards, and nine receiving touchdowns and his draft stock was in the top 10 range. Now he’s viewed as a mid-late first round pick and some NFL scouts view him as a second round pick.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba isn’t the first athlete to sit out due to recovering from an injury, fearing a potential injury, or not wanting to risk a lack of production on the field in preparation for the draft and he won’t be the last.

For prospects who excel early, staying in college is beginning to hurt their draft stock. The decline in draft outcomes will promote more young prospects sitting out after they had a few good games or one season until they meet the eligibility requirements for NFL. For example, if a 18-19 year old athlete comes into college football and dominates their peers they should have an option to go to the NFL. Derek Stingley Jr. was ready to play on Sundays after his Freshman season at LSU. 

What policy can be added to allow underclassmen to enter the NFL draft?

The NFL teams have adequate knowledge and resources to allow NFL ready prospects to have an opportunity to declare for the draft if they are ready. Each scouting department can be required to submit an underclassmen prospect review for all prospects that apply to be eligible for the NFL draft. After reviewing the prospects film and conducting an individual workout, if selected the team should submit a ratings evaluation to the NFL league office. After the amount of teams interested and rating score requirement is set a underclassmen should be allowed to enter the draft if they met all the predetermined standards. Prospects like Ja’Marr Chase, Derek Stingley, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba would not have to sit out bowl games or entire seasons. 

NFL teams could vote on a rule change and implement new draft policies quickly. The game of football is changing and athletes are becoming more “league ready” at faster rates than we have ever seen before, so it’s time for the NFL to keep up.

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